Via Kansas City Current
A record-breaking 11,301 fans attended the Kansas City Current’s home opener, which ended in a heartbreaking 4-1 loss to the Portland Thorns. Despite Portland’s early dominance, the shorthanded Kansas City side showed moments of brilliance, including the team’s first goal of the season, scored by Cece Kizer.
“We were disappointed in the manner that we went down,” said head coach Matt Potter. “I thought Portland showed exactly why they are Portland in the first half. And maybe we deferred to being a little bit cautious. At halftime, we talked about a little bit about how can we improve space in certain areas at certain times and then from there, how could we go be us more. And clearly in the second half, for a pretty good chunk of it, we showed what the potential of this group is and once the crowd got behind them, it seemed like it was nonstop one way.”
It was a tale of two halves for the Current. The Thorns put on the pressure early, winning a corner kick in the third minute. The low drive from Sam Coffey found Crystal Dunn on the right side of the box. After her first touch bounced past a Current player, Dunn’s follow up lofted over goalkeeper AD Franch to give Portland an early lead.
In the 18th minute, the Current found themselves on the wrong side of the whistle when Sophia Smith charged behind the defensive line to pounce on a pass. She was tripped up by rookie defender Gabrielle Robinson, earning the Thorns a penalty kick. Although Franch went the right way, Smith buried the shot past her to the left.
Kansas City’s best chance of the first half came in the 30th minute, when the Current earned a free kick just outside the box. Midfielder Alex Loera’s free kick found rookie forward Michelle Cooper at the far post, whose header bounced just wide of goal.
The second half was a different story for Kansas City, who had only logged one shot going into the midway break. Right off the start, Cooper and midfielder Cece Kizer combined for a beautiful chance at goal. After dispossessing the Thorns in midfield, Kizer charged into the attacking third and found Cooper perfectly running down the center. The rookie’s shot off her first touch brushed right over the bar.
In the 58th minute, it was Kizer who would find the back of the net first for the Current. Another free kick opportunity taken by Loera again sailed toward the back post. The Current baited goalkeeper Bella Bixby off her line, but Kizer beat her to the ball, heading it to the back of the net.
The Current continued to pressure the Thorns, racking up nine shots in the second half. Defender Hailie Mace nearly got on the scoresheet from a free kick opportunity in the 66th minute, which made it through the wall of Portland defenders, but was saved by Bixby.
A highlight of the match came in the 70th minute, when forward Debinha made her first appearance for the Kansas City Current. Signed in the offseason as a free agent, the forward returns from rehabbing an injury picked up while playing for the Brazilian national team at the SheBelieves Cup in February.
Kansas City’s attacking chances would not be enough though, as Sophia Smith completed her hat trick for Portland in the last ten minutes of the match. In the 83rd minute, Smith snuck past three defenders and poked a ball in that trickled past an outstretched Franch. Just five minutes later, she found the net again with a shot from distance at the top of the box.
The Current do not have a match this week and hopes to return a few more players from the injury report during the down time. Next, Kansas City travels to Chicago to face the Red Stars on April 15. The Current return to Children’s Mercy Park on April 23 against the Orlando Pride. Season tickets, flex plans and single match tickets are available for all home matches at Children’s Mercy Park. For pricing and information, visit kansascitycurrent.com.
NWSL Match Report
Match: Kansas City Current vs. Portland Thorns
Date: April 1, 2023
Venue: Children’s Mercy Park
Kickoff: 11:44 a.m. CT
Weather: 46 degrees, sunny
29’ Portland – Sugita (yellow)
66’ Portland – Hubly (yellow)
3’ Portland – Dunn (Coffey)
18’ Portland – Smith (PK)
58’ Kansas City – Kizer (Loera)
83’ Portland – Smith (Klingenberg)
88’ Portland – Smith
Kansas City Current Lineup: Franch, Mace, Robinson (89’ Rodriguez), Winebrenner, Merrick (63’ Spaanstra), Curran (70’ Debinha), Loera, Kizer, LaBonta (89’ Childers), Del Fava, Cooper (70’ Larsson)
Substitutes not used: Jordan Silkowitz, Cassie Miller, Vanessa DiBernardo
Portland Thorns Lineup: Bella Bixby, Meghan Klingenberg (90’ Reyes), Becky Sauerbrunn, Kelli Hubly, Natalia Kuikka, Christine Sinclair (78’ Rodriguez), Sam Coffey, Crystal Dunn (60’ Moultrie), Morgan Weaver (60’ Vasconcelos), Sophia Smith, Hina Sugita (60’ D’Aquila)
Substitutes not used: Shelby Hogan, Hannah Betfort, Meaghan Nally, Taylor Porter